Astronomy Essentials

Jupiter reaches opposition on November 2-3, 2023

On November evenings, look for Jupiter above the eastern horizon after sunset. It lies in the dim constellation of Aries the Ram. Jupiter – the 2nd brightest of all planets – reaches opposition at 5 UTC on November 3, 2023. At opposition, Jupiter is 33 light-minutes (3.992 AU) distant from Earth. The beautiful star cluster Pleiades is nearby the giant planet. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

Earth will fly between the sun and Jupiter – bringing Jupiter to its yearly opposition – on November 2-3, 2023. That’s right after Jupiter reaches perigee – its closest point – to Earth.

Jupiter in 2023: Maybe you’ve noticed Jupiter. It’s been the very bright object ascending in the east earlier each evening. Brighter than all the stars!
It reaches opposition on November 2-3 at 5 UTC (12 a.m. CDT) bringing Jupiter opposite the sun in our sky. It happens as Earth flies between the sun and Jupiter.
It is closest to Earth overnight on November 1-2, 2023, (at 3.982 astronomical units (AU) or 370 million miles (595 million km) or 33.11 light minutes from Earth.
Opposition constellation: Aries the Ram.
Brightness at opposition: Magnitude -2.9.
Size at opposition (as best seen through a telescope): 49.45 arcseconds across.
Through binoculars (anytime): Jupiter reveals a bright disk. If you look closely, you’ll see the Galilean satellites appearing as pinpoints of light, arrayed in a line that bisects the giant planet.

Opposition happens when Earth flies between an outer planet, like Saturn, and the sun. Illustration via Chris Peat/ Heavens-Above.

For precise sun and Jupiter rising times at your location:

Old Farmer’s Almanac (U.S. and Canada) (worldwide).

Stellarium (online planetarium program)

In-the-sky information and finder chart for your location

A comparison of the apparent size of Jupiter at opposition (November 1-2, 2023) and when it is most distant from the Earth at solar conjunction (May 18, 2024). Image via Dominic Ford’s Used with permission.

How often does Jupiter reach opposition?

As a matter of fact, Jupiter comes to opposition roughly every 13 months. That is how long Earth takes to travel once around the sun relative to Jupiter. So – according to our earthly calendars – Jupiter’s opposition comes about a month later each year. What’s more there are 12 constellations of the zodiac. And there are 12 months in a year. So Jupiter is in a new zodiacal constellation each year (last year, Pisces); this year, Aries).

2023 Jupiter opposition – November 3
2024 Jupiter opposition – December 7
2026 Jupiter opposition – January 10
2027 Jupiter at opposition – February 10

@adlerplanet #Jupiter is in #opposition on 9/26, so get your stargazing eyes ready for this celestial event, it might be one of the best views of Jupiter you will ever see! #AdlerPlanetarium #Astronomy #SpaceFacts #Chicago ? original sound – Adler Planetarium

Jupiter events in 2023

November 23, 2022: Jupiter ends retrograde motion
Jan 20, 2023: Jupiter at perihelion
February 22, 2023: Lunar occultation of Jupiter
April 11, 2023: Jupiter at solar conjunction
May 17, 2023: Lunar occultation of Jupiter
September 4, 2023: Jupiter enters retrograde motion
November 1, 2023: Jupiter at Perigee
November 3, 2023: Jupiter at opposition
December 30, 2023: Jupiter ends retrograde motion

Jupiter and its stormy atmosphere as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope on September 4, 2021. Image via Amy Simon (NASA-GSFC)/ Michael H. Wong (UC Berkeley)/ Hubblesite.

View from above the solar system, November 2023

View larger. | Heliocentric view of solar system, November 2023. Chart via Guy Ottewell.

A failed star

Another key point is that Jupiter isn’t a rocky planet like Earth. It’s more like a failed star, not massive enough or hot enough inside to spark thermonuclear fusion reactions, but some 2 1/2 times more massive than all the other planets in our solar system combined. So for Jupiter to shine as stars do, you’d need some 80 Jupiter’s – rolled into a ball – to be hot enough inside to spark thermonuclear reactions.

Naturally, Jupiter isn’t a star. In fact, it doesn’t shine with its own light, but by reflected sunlight. Yet on an October and November 2023 night – as bright Jupiter rises more or less opposite the sun – you can imagine standing on Earth and seeing Jupiter in our sky, if the giant planet did have enough mass to shine as stars do. If that were so, around Jupiter’s opposition, we’d have no night at all!

In fact, Jupiter (red) completes one orbit of the sun (center) for every 11.86 orbits of the Earth (blue), since our orbit is smaller, and we move faster! Animation via Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Aurelian Neacsu of Visina, Dambovita, Romania, captured this image of Jupiter on August 22, 2023, and wrote: “The bright dot visible on the right-bottom corner is not a planet’s satellite; it’s the star Sigma Arietis.” Thank you, Aurelian.

Bottom line: Jupiter will reach opposition on November 2-3, 2023, when Earth will fly between the sun and Jupiter. It’ll be closest to Earth on November 1-2, 2023.

Read more: How to see Jupiter’s moons

Read more: Jupiter: Closest to the sun November 1, 2023

November 1, 2023
Astronomy Essentials

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